The first Lithuanian Philatelic Exhibition took place at Telšiai. Its prime initiator was Lithuania’s foremost philatelic collector and expert, Dr. Jonas Mikulskis, also of Telšiai. The occasion for the event was the Centenary of the world’s first postage stamp, the Penny Black, issued in England formally on May 1, 1840.
The Philatelic Exhibition at Telšiai was opened on May 5, 1940 and closed on June 5 of the same year. It was held at the local museum “Alka” (“Alkos” Muziejus) with the co-operation of the Society of Lithuania’s Philatelists. The opening was attended by a number of distinguished guests, including two Ministers of the State. The organiser, Dr. Jonas Mikulskis, was presented with an exceptional Award by the President of the SLP, painter and designer Jonas Burba.
Lithuania Post honoured the Exhibition by installing an on-the-spot postal agency and providing a special commemorative oval-shaped date canceller with a movable date for each day of the Exhibition. The agency also accepted registered items, to be marked with a conspicuous somewhat large rectangular cachet inscribed to identify the Exhibition.
The Exhibition consisted of 5 thematic sections, two of which were devoted to the display of the complete set of stamps issued by the Republic of Lithuania. The event was well publicised in the press and, in addition, individual invitations were sent out to prominent collectors and public personalities.
A printed invitation by the “Alkos” Muziejus is shown below. Its addressee, (then young) Mr Edvardas Martinavičius – Martinas, passed away a few years ago in Plungė, Lithuania (after some 45 years in Australia, mainly in Sydney). With time, he had put together in great detail one of the largest specialised collections of Memel / Klaipėda 1920 – 1923.
A printed invitation to the Philatelic Exhibition at Telšiai.
The two images shown below depict a postcard printed specially for the Exhibition. Its obverse displays the hectographed postmaster’s stamp of Telšiai in 1920, plus space for address, whereas its reverse is intended for a message and, as the wording goes, for Greetings from the Exhibition. The First Day recorded by the commemorative canceller was, of course, 5 – V – 1940.
A postcard printed specially for the Exhibition.
The image below shows a registered cover, also carrying a First Day cancellation 5 – V – 1940, addressed to Riga (Latvia) and posted by a visitor from Latvia.
A registered First Day Cover to Riga, Latvia.
The image below shows another registered cover, addressed to (then young) Jonas Grigaliūnas who later became well known for his valuable collection, esp. airmails, as well as his good fortune in purchasing, in the summer of 1941, from the Telsiai P.O. sizeable quantities of the “birželiniai’ (June 1941) Telšiai overprints on Soviet stamps.
A registered cover addressed to Jonas Grigaliūnas.
The image below shows a registered cover to an unusual destination, Slovakia. During the German-engineered break-up of Czechoslovakia in 1939, Slovakia declared herself an independent state on March 14, 1939 but did not survive the Second World War. In general, mail from Lithuania to Slovakia of that period happen to be minor rarities as Lithuania herself soon became part of the Soviet Union, her stamps finally losing validity on March 25, 1941.
A registered cover to Slovakia.
The image shown below depicts a registered cover dated 2 – VI – 40 with serial No. 17. It seems that on June 2 a new registration serial started with a fresh No. 1, the previous Nos. reaching up to ca. 160 on 1 – VI – 1940.
A registered cover to Šiauliai.
The image below shows a Vilnius Recovery Souvenir Sheet cancelled 4 – VI – 1940, the day before the closing of the Exhibition.
A Vilnius Recovery Souvenir Sheet.
With time, noticeable scarcity of items from the First Philatelic Exhibition encouraged production of forgeries. The image shown below illustrates a forgery in the shape of a “registered postcard” which is a post-war product making use of a rather convincing imitation of the Exhibition canceller. However, the difference between genuine and forged canceller can be discerned by comparing individual elements, in particular the V-shape cut at the top of capital Š in TELŠIAI. Moreover, the forger had no access to the special registration cachet in use at the Exhibition, so a standard registration cachet of Telšiai was used instead. Also, the forger was confused as regards the days of the Exhibition, for the event actually opened on May 5, not 4 – V – 40 as stamped on the forgery. The receiving postmark of Kaunas stems from a postmarker known to have come into private possession. The lettering and mode of typing out the address comes up in some other forgeries as well – and so may serve as reference in further detecting of fakes.
Postal stationery card cancelled with a forged Telšiai Philatelic Exhibition postmark.